When I was in my early twenties, a work colleague left me a message that I was to return a call to a Mr G Raffe. In case you don’t get the joke, as I didn’t, it was the 1st April and the phone number turned out to be to the Melbourne Zoo. Ha, ha, I was the fool. I could not understand then, nor do I now, the sort of mindset that enjoys making a joke at someone else’s expense. But it was a harmless enough joke and people woke up on the morning of the first expecting to be caught out and they got to wake up the day after relatively unaffected.
Does it take a certain type of mindset or is it just an age related thing that you’re expected to grow out of? I’ve come to believe that it can be a bit of both. Some people never grow up. It might not be the whoopee cushions or electric handshakes but you can count on them to spike your non-alcoholic drink or glue a 20 cent coin to the ground and watch people going by stoop to pick it up. Everyone knows somebody like that and usually, they too are mostly harmless. If you make a living out of joking around like the two radio presenters, Mel Greig and Michael Christian are, or have been till recently, then chances are that you will never grow out of it. That is, until the day comes when finally something you do has the sort of consequences that you are not able to laugh off.
In case you’re the handful of people who have not heard about it, Greig and Christian are two FM broadcasters, working in Sydney, Australia who played one joke too many. Apparently, their show is a barrel of laughs aimed at a young demographic so, on both counts that lets me out. The pair and the show have been suspended because of a recent hoax that was played on staff at the King Edward VII hospital in London where Prince William’s pregnant wife, the Duchess of Cambridge was being seen to. The two presenters pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
Jacintha Saldanha who was a nurse at the hospital answered the phone to these jokers then passed it on to a colleague who revealed details of Kate’s condition. The news now is that Jacintha was found dead and suicide has been suspected.
I’m sure that when the furore dies down Greig and Christian and the show will be reinstated. That’s the way things work here, lots of indignation all round then back to normal, just ask Alan Jones, a controversial presenter at 2 GB. The 2Day FM CEO Rhys Holleran described the suspected suicide as ‘tragic’ said that he was satisfied that the presenters have broken no laws. That’s legalese for I know what my priorities are. It’s the most-cold hearted bit of rhetoric I’ve ever come across and typically management.
Then there’s our Media that has let us down. It doesn’t usually hesitate to hound people in the interest of the public’s need to know, unless it seems to me it is one of their own that is in trouble. It is closing ranks on one of its own. Everywhere I look I’m hearing or reading about the tragic event. I am being told that Christian and Greig (when I listened to radio news I noticed that their names were actually never mentioned) are not to blame, they are young and under pressure to keep up the ratings. It’s all the fault of management, don’t you know, and the fault of lawyers who let the idea pass through unchecked. Partly it is, but I think that making it legal doesn’t make it acceptable or moral.
Possibly Greig and Christian were under pressure but I suspect that having done that sort of thing before, without having had to face any repercussions, they did not feel the need to think things through now. Before the tragic news came out about Jacintha Saldanha, the pair were laughing it off and saying that the impersonations weren’t even believable. I’m still willing to feel sorry for the pair. I’m sure they’re as devastated as they say they are (of course I’m not Jacintha’s parents). Doing the wrong thing even if it isn’t all your fault and even if you are devastated doesn’t mean that you can be excused without having to face consequences (I don’t count a temporary suspension). Any parent worth their salt can tell you that there are two issues involved here and it’s a mistake to lump them together. You can be sorry, which is good and you should be sorry, but you have made a horrible mistake and you need to at the very least apologise unequivocally, acknowledge it to everyone involved and expect to be censured and expect to be criticised for it by (in this case) the public and by your peers.
I’ve declared that I’m hanging loose till next year, so no writing, just visiting, but I’ve been chewing on an item of news that has irritated me like the dickens. Atlhough I susopect it isn’t the end of things, it will be for me now that I have got my feelings down and out of my system so I can get on with my preparations.